Japan extends virus emergency



International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
photo Collected

photo Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Japan has extended a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas for 20 more days, with infections still not slowing as it prepares to host the Olympics in just over 50 days.

Cases remain high and medical systems in Osaka, the hardest-hit area in western Japan, are still overburdened, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in announcing the decision on Friday.

“I am aware that many people are voicing concern about holding the Olympics and Paralympics,” he said. “I take them seriously, and I will proceed with preparations for a safe and secure Games.”

He said the next three weeks are “an extremely important time for us to achieve results” in a two-pronged battle to control infections while expanding vaccinations.

The current state of emergency in the capital and eight other metropolitan areas was to end next Monday, but hospitals in some areas are still overflowing with COVID-19 patients and serious cases have recently hit new highs.

The 20-day extension covers nine areas ranging from Hokkaido in the north to Fukuoka in the south. A 10th area, the southern island prefecture of Okinawa, is already under emergency status through June 20.

Olympic organisers must decide at about that time whether to allow any fans at all, after overseas spectators were banned months ago. A plan to prioritise vaccinations for Japanese athletes is expected to begin around then, according to media reports.

Source: Aljazeera 

Shireen Abu Aqleh killed by ‘seemingly well-aimed’ Israeli bullet: UN



News Desk, Barta24.com
Shireen Abu Aqleh killed by ‘seemingly well-aimed’ Israeli bullet. Photo collected

Shireen Abu Aqleh killed by ‘seemingly well-aimed’ Israeli bullet. Photo collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

 

Latest United Nations (UN) review finds Al Jazeera journalist was not hit by firing from Palestinians, as was initially claimed by Israel.

The UN has said its investigations have found that the shot that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh on 11 May was fired by Israeli forces.

The Palestinian-American journalist, who was wearing a vest and helmet marked “press”, was killed while covering an Israeli army operation in Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

“We find that the shots that killed Abu Aqleh came from Israeli security forces,” the UN human rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva. “It is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation.”

She said: “We at the UN human rights office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident. The shots that killed Abu Aqleh and injured her colleague Ali Samodi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities.”

She added that the information came from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney general. “We have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists,” Shamdasani said.

In line with its human rights monitoring methodology, the UN human rights office inspected photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses.

The findings showed that seven journalists arrived at the western entrance of the Jenin refugee camp soon after 6am. At about 6.30am, as four of the journalists turned into a particular street, “several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets were fired towards them from the direction of the Israeli security forces. One single bullet injured Ali Samodi in the shoulder; another single bullet hit Abu Aqleh in the head and killed her instantly.”

The UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, has urged Israel to open a criminal investigation into Abu Aqleh’s killing and into all other killings by Israeli forces in the West Bank and in the context of law enforcement operations in Gaza.

The UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, has urged Israel to open a criminal investigation into Abu Aqleh’s killing and into all other killings by Israeli forces in the West Bank and in the context of law enforcement operations in Gaza.

In a statement responding to Shamdasani’s briefing, the Israel Defence Forces insisted there had been an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen.

“Ever since the incident, the IDF has been investigating and reviewing the circumstances of Ms Abu Aqleh’s death,” the statement said. “The IDF investigation clearly concludes that Ms Abu Aqleh was not intentionally shot by an IDF soldier and that it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately in her area or inadvertently by an IDF soldier.”

;

The BRICS Summit Begins



News Desk, Barta24.com
The BRICS Summit Begins, Photo collected.

The BRICS Summit Begins, Photo collected.

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

 

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa meet virtually today (June 23)  for a summit of BRICS nations. As well as a chance to discuss economic strategies outside a Western-dominated system, the meeting once again shows that, although Russia is isolated from the West, for the rest of the world it is still very much open for business.

According to media repots, Russian President Vladimir Putin joins the gathering today at a time when his country has become China’s largest crude oil supplier—a position usually enjoyed by Saudi Arabia. He will hold talks with a group of leaders who have so far tempered any criticism of the war in Ukraine.

Indeed Xi Jinping, in his address to the BRICS Business forum on Wednesday, appeared to lay the blame on Ukraine for Russia’s invasion, calling it a “wake up call” and a reminder that “attempts to expand military alliances and seek one’s own security at the expense of others will only land oneself in a security dilemma.”

Addressing the same forum, Putin was bullish on the economic opportunities presented by the group, touting negotiations on opening Indian chain stores in Russia, increasing Chinese industrial imports and “reorienting trade flows” to BRICS nations. According to Putin, trade with the group increased by 38 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

He added that the BRICS group could soon go a step further by challenging the U.S. dollar, creating its own international reserve currency based on the “basket of currencies of our countries.”

For India, also a member of the Quad—along with Australia, Japan, and the United States—it faces a challenge to keep up its balancing act between East and West.

“India lives in a rough neighborhood and has been able to stick by its non-aligned policy to ensure its strategic autonomy by essentially engaging with everybody, and they’ve done a pretty good job of that,” Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, told Foreign Policy (FP). “But as great power competition continues to heat up, not just between the U.S. and China, but now the U.S. and Russia, it’s going to be increasingly difficult and delicate to maintain that balance.”

Indian officials aren’t naïve about their position, and are reportedly working to block any attempts to insert anti-U.S. messaging into the BRICS joint statement as well as slow any attempts to expand the grouping.

That the BRICS grouping is not known as a particularly effective combination may work in India’s favor. “I think that India can make a gamble, which I think is pretty safe, and it can essentially, pledge full support for everything BRICS is doing to show that it’s a loyal member of the group, while at the same time betting on the strong likelihood that BRICS won’t be able to move the needle forward on a lot of the issues and plans that are discussed,” said Michael Kugelman, an Asia expert at the Wilson Center and author of FP’s South Asia Brief. “That would then spare India from having to make awkward decisions about how far to go and pursue policies within BRICS that could put it at odds with the West.”

India is in high demand in a busy few weeks for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He travels to Germany over the weekend to attend the G-7 summit and in July he joins another new grouping (and acronym) I2-U2, with the leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

;

The Quake was Afghanistan’s Deadliest in Two Decades



News Desk, Barta24.com
The Quake was Afghanistan’s Deadliest in Two Decades

The Quake was Afghanistan’s Deadliest in Two Decades

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Villagers rushed to bury the dead Thursday and dug by hand through the rubble of their homes in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan that killed at least 1,000 people. The Taliban and the international community that fled their takeover struggled to bring help to the disaster’s victims.

Under a leaden sky in Paktika province, which was the epicenter of Wednesday’s magnitude 6 earthquake, men dug a line of graves in one village, as they tried to lay the dead to rest quickly in line with Muslim tradition. In one courtyard, bodies lay wrapped in plastic to protect them from the rains that are hampering relief efforts for the living.

The quake was Afghanistan’s deadliest in two decades, and officials said the toll could rise. An estimated 1,500 others were reported injured, the state-run Bakhtar News Agency said.

“They don’t have anything to eat, they are wondering what they can have to eat, and it is also raining,” a Bakhtar reporter said in footage from the quake zone. “Their houses are destroyed. Please help them, don’t leave them alone.”

The disaster heaps more misery on a country where millions already faced increasing hunger and poverty and the health system has crumbled since the Taliban retook power nearly 10 months ago amid the U.S. and NATO withdrawal. The takeover led to a cutoff of vital international financing, and most of the world has shunned the Taliban government.

;

Afghanistan Quake Kills 1,000 People, Deadliest in Decades



News Desk, Barta24.com
Afghanistan Earthquake, Photo collected

Afghanistan Earthquake, Photo collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

In this photo released by a state-run news agency Bakhtar, Afghans look at destruction caused by an earthquake in the province of Paktika, eastern Afghanistan, Wednesday (June 22).

The news of Afghanistan quake 'Deadliest in Decades' became the focus of world mrdia. Aaccoding to the report by Bakhtar News Agency via AP, a powerful earthquake struck a rural, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 more in one of the deadliest quakes in decades. the state-run news agency reported the  officials warned that the already grim toll may still rise.

Information remained scarce on the magnitude 6.1 temblor near the Pakistani border, but quakes of that strength can cause serious damage in an area where homes and other buildings are poorly constructed and landslides are common. Experts put the depth at just 10 kilometers (6 miles) — another factor that could lead to severe destruction.

The disaster posed a major test for the Taliban-led government, which seized power last year as the U.S. planned to pull out from the country and end its longest war, two decades after toppling the same insurgents in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Rescuers rushed to the area by helicopter Wednesday, but the response is likely to be complicated since many international aid agencies left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. Reaching rural areas even in the best circumstances remains difficult in Afghanistan, a landlocked nation just smaller than Texas with rutted mountain roadways that may now have sustained significant damage.

;